A town in Bruce County is saying farewell to one of its most famous residents: a furry prognosticating rodent.
Wiarton Willie, who each Groundhog Day was responsible for predicting whether Canadians would see an early spring or six more weeks of winter, passed away this week at the age of 13.
The news was confirmed in a press release issued by Janice Jackson, the mayor of the Town of South Bruce Peninsula.
“Willie was 13 years young and served our Town, Province and Country with immense pride each and every Groundhog Day. Willie also enjoyed meeting the thousands of guests that would visit him at his home in Bluewater Park during the summer months,” the mayor’s statement read.
She noted that the average life expectancy for groundhogs in the wild is about four years and is even shorter for albino groundhogs like Willie.
“Willie’s daily care regimen couples with living in a safe and protected environment allowed Willie to reach the ripe old age of thirteen,” Jackson said.
A memorial service and funeral procession will be held for Willie on Saturday, Sept. 30 at Bluewater Park.
The park will also house a statue in Willie’s likeness.
Wee Willie, who served as Willie’s understudy for two years, will become the new star of Wiarton’s Groundhog Day festivities.